OCTOBER 2022 = DETERMINATION
POKING AND PRODDING
It was her first time at a blood drive,
and maybe her last
as five different people tried,
five with different years of experience,
failed at drawing blood from the vein in her left arm.
Five tries, poking and prodding,
five attempts, the same result,
and after all the consecutive failures,
she gave the go ahead to try her other arm,
one last chance, a different vein, and this time,
striking the mother lode on the first try,
blood flowing down the tube into the bag.
Success, and now, maybe after all,
there might be a next time.
I AM BEING ME
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a passing thought
on a passing train
blood pumping through every vein
yes, I’m still here
still flowing through my veins
even more demanding.
stronger than ever
stronger than steel
no longer thinking
what others feel
finally taking flight
the caged bird is finally free
I am being who I want to be
I am being me.
From pupil to teacher
fifty years work nearly done.
Life lessons taught
to your far away son.
A full life of service
to all that you met.
Not one single moment
do you want to forget.
You’ve been hurt and have hurt
many times in your life.
Loving and laughing while
on the edge of a knife.
Working at thirteen;
bailing hay was just play.
At sixty-two it’s ‘no thanks’
“You had your day. ”
Muscles betray you;
random thoughts disappear.
The crispness of sounds dim
the horizon’s unclear.
The hourglass remains steady
bottom heavy, not the top.
The flow remains constant
the grains never stop.
Just an old man braying
about the pasture and the rust.
Saying hello to my father
from star dust to dust.
LITTLE GIRL MOONRISE
Rows of deep pink crescents
on both palms;
often, too often, the moons of me.
I unfurl my aching fingers
and watch the moons rise.
Though my nails are deeply bitten,
they still make moonscapes
when fists clench and clench again.
I let my rigid arms go limp,
releasing trembling ribs and legs.
First deep breath over raw throat—
At last safe to cry,
no longer wrapped so tight.
Fractured but not completely broken,
I gather up the lunar rocks,
bits of shadow from the craters,
try to figure out how they fit.
Crouched in the corner, again and again,
I put the pieces back together,
more or less—
a cobbled-together self,
until I am old enough to get away.
I will have a life,
I will not be eclipsed,
When the order comes down to surrender weapons
and give inner peace the opportunity to flourish
the angry anarchist will ignore such doctrines
that make him compromise his deep enmity.
When empty space seems seamless as midnight
loose ends get tied while light seeps through
and precepts we thought suppressed shall
bubble to the surface of mystic worlds.
While inside the Earth resounding thunder builds
we remain unaware of all the power it carries
and people's world views become distorted
even though they don't see anything new.
When solutions come and go and then around again
they become concrete in our aggregate mind that
will be studied by future scholars digging deep
to ascertain why certain events transpired.
When thieves are free to rob and batter innocents
the effect is to deplete hapless folk of all hope
and dupe them into surrendering freedoms
they have long felt essential for survival.
Should the magnetic pole shift suddenly no doubt
the masses will be frozen in a state of confusion
as to what this marathon called life is worth
regardless of any former conceptions.
If woeful politicians continue devising schemes
to benefit those corrupt empowered autocrats
who control mass media some day we may
be begging for a merciful square deal.
In these turbulent times may we encourage rhyme
to sing on blithely despite desperate conditions.
so that steadfast patriots rise to the surface
defending what is theirs by rite of birth.
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Are you a vegetarian?
Or a fruitarian?
I’m a pesky terrier
To bite you
Are you snarling at me?
As I bark away
Climbing up the tree
Are you a bone picker?
Sticks and stones
Dig your hole deeper
Six feet under
Are you feeling sorry now?
I collared you
Caught you way down
At the letterbox
Are you trying your luck?
Mr. bag of tricks
Every day you suck
RAW SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION
Sat in bed shaking your head,
and dandruff appears to be
your brain cells falling
from your memories of yesterdays.
You go to pick up your cup
up to drink your tea,
and your hand decides that you
should wear the tea instead of drinking it.
Yes, you still have your humour,
when your brain and body fight
like boxers in a ring,
deciding on who will win.
Enough of this lying in bed.
So, you hutch up and swing
your legs to the floor,
as one with body and brain you're up.
But that was the easy part,
as soon as you straighten
your body decides to breakdance.
Head, hands and legs all shaking in time.
Yet throughout this daily torture.
There's no sorrow or woe is me.
No, none of that for you,
you're still able to smile to achieve your goal.
This story I've told you about this man,
makes him extraordinary in this time.
A character full of determination,
with no time to whine.
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The sun will find you,
even when the shadows
seem more plentiful -
If we let them,
they will build strength.
The walls we try to create,
often crumble -
and hope seems lost.
With persistence, and fortitude the
sun will find you,
and its arms will envelope -
your heart in warmth, and
provide new strength.
Open your window, then,
listen for the signs, breath in what
you are becoming -
rise up each day
She is a golden warrior,
New Mexico, USA
Mall, casino, stadium, golf course, church,
hospital, library. Books take up too much
space. They can be digitalized, then we can
take down walls, floor, roof, level the library,
and in its place make a parking lot. Society,
by ignoring literature, by putting the library
in a far corner, devalues literature. It’s not
important. All literature’s basic question is
What does it mean to be human? A society
that doesn’t value literature doesn’t value
language. Literature. There’s jargon: math
literate, baseball literate, computer literate,
epithets for familiarity with vocabulary of
these entities. But literature, as in literate,
is unique. Not all writing is concerned with
the human question. Language is important.
Words matter. Carlos Fuentes defines
language as a social event. Words express
thoughts, feelings. Besides body language
and deeds, language is our source of
communication: let me tell you how I feel,
what I think. Communication is knowledge,
the opposite of knowledge, ignorance.
Village. Literacy communication, knowledge
harmony, prosperity. Illiteracy isolation,
ignorance, discord, poverty of spirit.
Library—I want to sit in a chair and be seen
reading Faulkner. I want others to read.
New York, USA
Present was up to his old tricks
pretending he would always be here.
Then Memory stumbles in
Remember forces us to step
into those other days, yesterdays.
Present sits back and waits
nodding, staring out the window
not hurrying us. He knows
Memory will run out.
In the quiet he’ll stand up
and wrap today around us.
We’ll notice some of the pieces missing
and find old tricks to help us go on.
I AM DETERMINED
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I am determined to speak my voice
Our opinions matter
We all have a choice
I am determined to stand up proud
While speaking into the mic
I'll draw in a crowd
I am determined to influence friends
I'll inspire them to be true to
themselves and unfollow trends
I am determined to speak the truth
Speaking with logic to our youth
Julie A. Dickson
New Hampshire, USA
eve of autumnal equinox. no cool breeze
brushes skin prickle of heat prevails sweat
beads on brow like so many pearls iridescent
shoulders bar braided hair twisted up in case
rare draft blows across her neck brown eyes
pools of warmth reflect lazy birds circle sky
woman the vessel for all time reminded
mothers grandmothers aunties they speak
beginnings Buddha Rhea Jesus Inti Cain
worship her womb Gaia Madonna Pacamama
bloody show flows earth gives birth rivulets
run red nourish ground milk-fed eve of life
diminish not her sacred breast forsake not- lest
she withers barren landscape shivers the cold
winter’s eve crimson tears fall weeping earth
autumn demise plants weary to death face snow
masks brown trace breath held to spring rebirth
eve breaks forth she survives resilient she
THE FLAG WE CHOOSE
New York, USA
https://www. linkedin. com/in/antoniooto/
standing on that bridge
watching bundles of restlessness
tangle and eddy
currents of valor pass below,
still, here we are, only a few years away
kneeling on broken stones and bones
somehow a war belongs to a world
that never softens
and it's coming again, filling our ears
while we offer the same prayer
with both hands open
Aqsa Samo, 16 Years Old
Determination can't be retrieved,
because you aspired to achieve.
Your motivation is a powerful weapon,
it can't be taken away by anyone.
Fill up with bravery,
your fear will drain off your energy.
You dream to reach your destiny,
don't be scared due to misery,
because adversity will make you steadfast.
Now don't regret the past,
you have to move fast.
Now flash a smile over your bright future,
you will be dedicated to innovation
and your adulation will be sung by your nation.
RUNNING THE CHATUGA
When I became a fish
that day in April, when the boys
at the nature center outfitted us
with wet suits and confidence,
the first section of the river
was peaceful and lapped our boat
so gently I asked you why
they called it running.
When I became a fish
the river moved faster,
we cleared some rapids,
there was splashing. The water
was cold with spring melt,
we heard a roar and hurled
over the falls. I popped out
of the boat, skin glinting.
When I became a fish
there was no negotiation
before I hit the water. My arms
slapped to my sides to open
my gills. I slid with the current,
the wetness slick against my scales.
I sculpted a fish trail.
I sashayed around the rocks.
When I became a fish
my black eyes glittered.
My caudal fin guided me
into a family of rainbow
trout who were dropping
river pearls into piles
on the sandy bottom.
I swam, serpentine, sinuous.
When I became a fish
I heard you call for me,
I swam in place. Water
slithered around me. You
were searching. I hid
behind a log, then showed you
my back, beckoned you
with my tail, frothy, promising.
When I became a fish
you lifted me into the boat.
I shivered violently,
I was flopping around the bottom,
until you undressed me,
left the wetsuit on the riverbank,
slid me through your hands
into a bucket of water.
When I became a fish
we had lunch at a country café.
You bought us the buffet and said
I never saw you eat so much
while dropping minnows and garden
hackles into my water. We gorged
on crawfish, sated ourselves
with night crawlers and insect nymphs.
When I became a fish.
CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP AFTER DIXIE
Lesley Rogers Hobbs
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The green sign reads:
Welcome to G--- Population 1300
Stump-trees black, a roofless barn
house after house abandoned
under spring’s oatmeal sky.
No windows, no curtains playing
in the wind, no laughter, no tears.
Flames licked the sky
when the world erupted
blue skies burned orange
to ash –
fragments of hope gathered
funeral mounds, requiem
for a future.
The sidewalks through town
bloom riotous yellow and purple,
weeds stretch through crevices
tenacious and sure.
Purple petals are nodding in a bow.
It’s ready to flow with the wind
spreading its fragrance where
it determines to flourish the mind.
The sky asks why the clouds are dark?
They must be blue in whole
light is determined to brighten
the dark like a diamond in a pile of coal.
Mountains are the barriers to the chilly frost
they are determined to stop the freeze.
To grow in green and blue
and not the warmth to be squeezed.
All the creatures determined to be together
loitering in flocks.
Alone the man, who forgets the promise
Due to their mind blocks.
Human is determined to be human
In front of his father, God.
They forgot to keep their promise
and didn't work what they ought.
If the determination is taken as oath
it should be strong as stone.
Be determined, the God advice
in a high baritone.
AFTER THE GALE
D. R. James
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Ivory spines disguise the oaks’ south sides,
slivers of sunshine lightening their rough
trunks. What furrowed pallor, what dignity:
spires anchored to all others underneath,
delight clad in the plucked bones of winter.
What diligence, what staid bystanding: a
throng of distinct ascetics, enmeshed horde
of collective loners. It’s as if they’re
avowing how steadfastness, soon resumed,
enroots in you your essential locale.
—first published in MORIA
K. G. Munro
Burn me with the force of a thousand flames,
I'll keep on changing,
From the ashes to the sun's rays,
I'm a white butterfly in the rain,
One that keeps on flying,
Even when the world is on fire,
Just smoke in the clouds,
Sounds of my wings flapping
I'll keep on flying towards the stars,
In the blue of the universe,
Atoms call my name,
Milky Ways are my home,
The moon is my Polaris
As I leave behind the shattered rock,
Going back to where all it started,
The first spark to light the darkness.
The aftermath is harder
than the eye of the storm.
Despite the rocks and boulders
amidst the storm
the boat must keep moving
if it wants to reach the shore.
After you reach the shore –
battered and bruised –
you need to be treated.
That is what the harbour is for,
Use it, rest in it, heal in it,
Treat all the wounds.
Then you must leave the harbour.
Do not live in it through fear,
Or you will pale and fade.
You will be looked at from afar,
But you will never travel far.
So go greet the sea once again;
Become its Master.
Be Your own Travelling Ship;
Meet those waves.
Keep Riding when the storm hits again,
But Visit the Harbour for Maintenance.
It is deep enough,
For every type of visiting boat and ship at sea.
ON OUR HILL
Daily, even in brutal weather,
one neighbor traverses our steep hill.
This claudicated climber clomps
her twisted left foot and sets it
firmly at each stride. We all wince
at her struggle, but she stays on task.
She keeps us honest, we who find
the weakest excuse for inertia.
She is a warrior who does not roar
nor clang sword to breastplate.
On her route, she always greets the couple.
Like matched salt and peppers, the frail pair,
two sallow grayheads, police their wee,
yet lush, triangular garden twice daily
at an intersection named for a long-dead
WWI soldier of low rank at just one
such street meeting that Boston insists
on calling a square, (We could look South
to Savannah to see how squares are done. )
Four spindled forearms recall white birch,
though not as thick, smooth nor pale.
These two also walk our sheer hill daily.
My eyes greet hers as she strives upward,
and my mouth says, “This is some hill. ”
She glances at her man shuffling, lagging,
“This hill is the only thing keeping us alive. ”
They advance together in joint measure,
steadily and slowly as a fog cloud arriving.
by Shelly Blankman
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Only the steady tick of the wall clock
cracks the silence. A hushed crowd
waits for him, poised like a cat ready
to pounce on his prey, a balance beam,
eyes, fixed ahead. Tick … tick … tick…
He looks so fragile, ashen, thin from
years of illness, hospitalizations, brain
surgery. Challenges in and out of school
since kindergarten, now 14 and better,
more spirited. No one would know his pain.
No one would sense his sorrow, not by
the mountains he scaled like hills. No one
would see a child whose life had snaked
into a spectator of sports and games he
couldn’t play, parties he couldn’t attend.
And now I wait for the moment … his
moment . . . to shed the darkness and
shine, dauntless as an Olympian seeking
the gold. His muscles flex, he runs and
launches, lands firmly on his hands, body
sword-straight, toes pointed skyward toward
limitless space. The only sound, the clock. He
dismounts and the crowd rises to its feet, applauds
wildly. Joshua smiles. I do, too … through my
tears. A milestone achieved. A life begun anew.
Previously published in Halfway Down the Stairs
Marsha Warren Mittman
South Dakota, USA
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he went AWOL
from the tsar’s army
fully knowing if caught
he’d be shot
but figured he’d die
anyway, fighting the war
so, he took a chance
escaped in a blizzard
and started walking across
Russia, towards the west,
always west, to Europe
and any port with a ship
sailing for fabled America
it took nine years
but he persevered and
achieved his dream
upon arriving in legendary
New York City everyone
called him a greenhorn
a derogatory slang term for
an inexperienced immigrant
but to great-grandfather
“greenhorn” meant freedom
the sweetest word ever
Maryam Imogen Ghouth
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“Heal, heal,” they say, but
how long does it take a forest
to recover from wildfire?
80 years and longer.
Meanwhile, the forest floor breathes;
she finally sees
the silken sheets of sunlight
fanning her a breeze;
the nutrients from dead trees nourish
her soil like the puckered beaks
of mother birds offering up slain worms
for their hungry chicks;
pinecones throw open like maidens in heat;
wind-swept seedlings put out rainbow shoots;
hollyhocks rise from the ashes
like Cappadocian hot air balloons;
the charred remains of tree trunks,
proud like gothic castles,
provide shelter for the two-winged, the six-legged,
the squirrel and mink who make
their homes in hollow bark.
The wound gives.
ERIC IS EIGHTEEN
Inspiration: The article: The right ingredients
Chicago Tribune Section 6 Sunday, January 1, 2016
Eric was homeless at the age of fifteen,
a foster care child who struggled with his means.
Coming from Chicago, he went to Niles,
going to school became one of his trials.
His family moved back to the city, but Eric didn’t go,
determined to succeed, he worked hard, not slow.
He stayed at a friend’s house, but that fell through,
homeless, he still would show up for school.
Eric got a job at a place called the French Pastry School,
and he worked hard, using discipline as a chosen tool.
He took on a job almost impossible for the average teen,
learning recipes and ingredients that he’d never seen.
He learned how to measure sugar from a spoon,
he brought his mom French cookies and macaroons.
In all his studies, he probably never got an F,
and now at eighteen, he’s working full-time as a chef.
An unexpected shining example of maturity,
an eighteen-year-old kid who has job security.
As I write this, I am completely touched by this kid,
I think of me at eighteen, from responsibility I hid.
I worked in the restaurant business for ten years, too,
it was an utter disaster, it left me with the blues.
I couldn’t wash the dishes right without making mistakes,
but here is a eighteen-year-old chef making cakes.
Being homeless can make you face reality younger,
and now, Eric satisfies other people’s hunger.
When Eric graduated his family cried tears of joy,
The French pastry school is proud that they can employ.
For the New Year’s Day paper today, this was one of the few,
positive articles they had, for everything else, nothing new.
Negative news bombarded me from every area of the earth,
then I saw the article about Eric, and I recognized it’s worth.
IN THE INTERIM
The number of civilian deaths in the Russo-
Ukrainian war is 6300 and rising
Let’s go she says it’s taking too long
waiting around being destroyed.
All these wires holding things together
inside my body keep poking around.
They itch, sometimes they hurt.
I think last night I heard them ticking.
In the rubble, I saw enduring protest.
I saw tears flowing into the earth
and I knew there was still life there.
I saw what had been a tree root
cut into roots, splintered from itself.
Why madness? Why the trees?
Where will the birds nest?
Latest reports show 14,400 total casualties.
Numbers rise as bombs strike
women and children at work and school.
Men as young as twelve continue
improvising with as little as fisticuffs.
Only what we share can save us.
Only language, imperfect
one- stringed instrument, can lead
to the source of what’s shared.
Its broken neck held to its body
still gives out a flattened note
heard the same by every ear.
Tell me again about the other place
where lines drawn are not the shape of
what’s been taken away. I want to go
but there are no coins left for the ferry.
They all got dropped during the struggle
and then starting over. It doesn’t matter how,
we must find the place where they
welcome what’s most vulnerable.
UNFLINCHING AM I!
Kathy Jo Bryant
Under stress and much strain
Unflinching am I
Uber someone on whom to rely!
Unable to win, NO!
Unflinching am I
Underneath it all, I will try!
Unflinching am I
Undefeated I'll be, by and by!
Beyond the heavens, above the stars,
Strong like mountains, tricks like a leopard,
Get ready ahead of you,
If the intention is to show something,
Don’t waste your time,
Don’t suffer for no reason,
Now that work is done,
The world was unfamiliar to him until now,
If you leave the house, you will find a way,
Success will come from hard work and sweat,
Not by standing hand in hand,
Difficulties I’ll also come and rebellions will also come with it,
The path of hard work is not easy,
This is very difficult path,
But you have not lost courage,
Next, where I have your good,
Do what you have to do with your passion,
Then look, the whole world will be at your feet.
TO BED 8’S DOCTOR
California, USA / India
Because you use only bed pans, he cannot use the commode.
“Because you have a diaper on”, the nurse says from afar, “OK go. ”
Because he is asking to go to the bathroom, he is better.
Do you hear the music in his words?
Because you violated the body, listen.
Because the sun is for all, and especially for the frail,
let the sun
In so his gnarled cheer can bloom.
Jane H Fitzgerald
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Later in life she finally understood
The slash of scarlet across the mouth
Cheeks powdered brightly as a cardinal’s breast
Overly treated hair resulting in bizarre shades
Her image in the mirror was like a mirage
A distant, nebulous misty vision
Applying makeup was a blind guess
Like putting paint on a used canvas
Only vivid colors could cover what was done
This was a desperate effort to recapture
her young face
long lost in time
Her misapplied scarlet lipstick, bright as blood
An unwavering will which refused to surrender
THE SHELTERING SKY
(After Su Tung Po)
The sky is like a table
made of glass, but clouds
drift through its cracks.
Night arrives, and the day
is lost. A star flickers.
It’s what we’re made of,
but it sees nothing.
It has no desires.
It knows no fears.
Soon it will burn to ashes.
It does what it was
meant to do. It’s born.
It flickers, then it dies.
I was only meant
to wonder why.
TURN, TURN, TURN
T. S. Eliot in the “The Waste Land” said that April was the cruelest month. He wrote this in the aftermath of the 1918 influenza pandemic when it was estimated that as many as fifty million died worldwide. In this epic poem Eliot is expressing irony that this devastation coincided with a season normally associated with fecundity. Living with Covid for two years now, we found ourselves last spring languishing. To pull ourselves out of lethargy, my wife and I volunteered to help replenish a public park in our local community. In its native-plant garden, we exchange smiles under masks. Dig out the old, plant the new. Over the summer we began to see the fruits of our labor. Late blooming flowers now carry us into the autumn season.
of bright red rose hips –
the flush of fall
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When I visited my future self
she took me in her arms
and held me
like I wish my mother had
before all the muscle
wasted from her bones.
She smelled of wood smoke
and aged whiskey
with crows’ feet that
were filled with more
laughs then tears.
A smile curled at the edge
of her lips
just like the one I have
practiced so many times
in the mirror and she holds my
hand. They look like
of paper and grace
and love for small
things that youth
has not granted the patience for.
Our hazel eyes meet
and hers are filled
with the peace
I have spent
all my hours
the anxious grasslands
of my mind
the trees for journals
filled with a thin hope
hanging on black lines
that somewhere in the blank pages
I would find
that I did
She wiped the tears
from my cheek
THE LAZARUS EFFECT
This lady on light rail with bouffant hair
and infant in her lap sucking a pistol
misses stop after stop.
Van Ness Avenue is a tangle: transvestites
posing naked for cops hold up traffic.
Elsewhere dwarfs plant suitcases
around the fringes of a hippodrome
so elephants won’t be inclined
to steal their counterfeit money.
One of my uncle’s dying wishes
as he groped for breath
was that his hallucination be kept secret:
opaque fairies gamboling in the rain.
Script writers got involved. They thought
along the lines of a brontosaurus without
tonsils or eyes, such yokels.
This is why I never watch movies in 3D.
Butch exited the saloon bright-eyed.
Too bad he left his toupee on a bench
in the men’s room where a mouse ate it.
A fellow who read Hegel behind his
boss’ back while on break at the hotel
was found snoozing on the highway
at peak hour. He got airlifted
on wings of a sky-blue gondola.
Mannequins come late this time, following
the clang of gongs and chuckle of bullets,
every aspect of this pure pleasure. I know
the natives blend well, but should banish
their lazy sorts to some island like Tahiti.
A narrative that will forever hold true
Two friends who were thick as thieves
It was easy to see
The bond between my determination and me
The ship of camaraderie rode ferocious waves
With finesse and ease, but behold:
The shallows with rocks armed for assault
The ship shuddered and sank due to neither’s fault
Now the ache of betrayal mars every meeting
Ties cut up; adrift in the void
Life of saints isn’t for mortals
Need to find what was lost, need to step through portals
Into a world where exists a stage after desire
To strive, to prevail, to endure, to stay
To command my life’s tide
I will need my forgotten friend by my side
IF AT FIRST
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First, Sandra, with dark eyes
and tawny hair; she learned violin.
Then Cathy, a blond beauty
with an infectious laugh.
Then twins: Barbara and Nancy.
All perfect girls.
The man next door stopped trying
to sire a son,
and built a solid redwood fence.
IT’S NOT A SPRINT
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I’ve run two marathons and two half-marathons in my life.
Every minute of every race was hell.
26. 2 miles of pure hatred
Acts of defiance to prove to myself I could.
To prove to everyone and silence all doubt.
Acts of torture as toenails fell off, knees throbbed, and blisters formed.
Acts of dedication to practice runs and food diaries and fundraisers for Leukemia.
There was no joy or love in these marathons.
But I can always say I did them.
There was triumph in the torture.
We can do hard things.
We can force ourselves to keep running, keep our arms pumping and legs working overtime.
On a highway in San Diego that’s been closed off to cars and filled with sweaty bodies in jerseys.
Through Disney theme parks with animated characters and costumes
Smile and pose
Smile and run
Smile and send your body forward
Signs of support flashing as racers hobble by.
Who would do this without pageantry, rock bands, a party to distract and cheer?
An audience has to see the struggle, understand the effort
If a tree falls in the woods and no one sees it, what’s really happened
A marathon is too much
Why do humans do this?
Put themselves through the agony and grit through it?
Why do we do anything?
To be better, to push for greatness
If Oprah can do it, so can I
If Diddy can do it, so can I
So can I, and I will
Fuck the time, do the race
Fuck the time, do the race
You never have to do this again
Catch up to him, stay with her
It’s like a game of Frogger, forcing alertness but also numbing
Sprinting was fun in high school
A dynamic thrust forward, pushing and springing to the finish line
Bursting with energy and ability
No thinking needed
Not so with marathons
26. 2 miles in your head trying to not be in your head
No part is fun
In every section of the race a new quest
They call 20 miles in the Wall
But what if the whole thing is a Wall designed for you to push through it at all costs?
Our training stopped at 20 miles so that the last 6 miles are new and untested
That’s the part that’s not guaranteed and also the most terrifying
If it’s simply too much to try the whole race during practice, doesn’t that say it all
Who came up with this notion
Pushing past what feels necessary
Men with bloody nipples
Scrapes, bruises, long-suffering limbs
Lasting impact on joints
But pride and glory in the finish.
A cape to wrap around the heroes that emerge
Out of the mist of a marathon
Ready to do anything else that life throws their way
What could be harder after all
New Jersey, USA
https://www. goodreads. com/author/show/127227. Bulusu_Lakshman
Life is but too short a dream
Too short to see the stars in a stream
Now is the time to lift the arm
To do something in sweet charm
Lift the wingless kiwi to unknown heights
To capture the world dressed in lights
Gift the pilgrim with a strong shaft
Steer him akin a ship un-tethered from its raft
Unite the lover parted from beloved
Like the flame and its light undivided
Calm the love-filled soul lamenting in secrecy
Their emotions recollected in tranquility
Play greeting notes to season justice
That shall hark back in life’s mystique
To the coterie who cry for a new incarnation
Of boundless travail and tribulation
Train fragile hands many by far
Steel them like rods to bar
The scepter hard, melt it like snow on a bright day
In the face of angelic smiles in heaven’s bay
Rollout withered leaves of evil with showers
Of goodness, for folk to settle in sheltering towers
Where the white sun of honesty streams
To muffle greed with its beams
These deeds make you cognizant and bold
Of the fact that, ‘to hold is more than to behold’
So others are assured of your help
That makes them as contented self
And as actions to proclaim
These enamor virtue by their name
In times forward leap
These reign like pearls in ocean deep
Now the happy soldiers
Go to fight again the battle,
Marching bravely forty abreast
With heavy muskets shouldered,
Yelling their cries of pain and glory
As they face the cold cannon
Barking like a pack of mad dogs.
Down they go in ones and twos,
And sometimes in little bunches,
Collapsing together as though
Put to sleep by the fairy dust
Of long forgotten dreams.
Both sides feel the urge
To kill, to step the victor
O’er their brothers’ bones.
Grown men playing—yes
Even perhaps a bit silly—but
Maybe, just maybe,
Some of them are unaware
Of their own anguished deaths
There on that sweating day
Not so very long ago.
At seventeen I went to that town
To talk of my education and
In the warm afternoon
I meandered mindlessly
Amidst the boulders named
Fearfully for Satan’s lair.
There suddenly, terribly,
While walking between two
Of the giant stones, my body
Shuddered, an awful shaking
That shook me to the core
Of my soul, but then I did not yet
Know we never die only once.
https://www. instagram. com/pratibhapoetryart/
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the feeling of
frees us from the
so we can
Lorelyn De la Cruz Arevalo
No climb is the same
be it in the mountain, hill
or even the stairs.
You have to consider
nature and its unpredictable stance,
every factor influencing any challenge,
the hurdles and obstructions,
delays and uncertainties,
multiple choices or the lack.
No climb gets easier,
but rest assured that with
every rock you lift,
every block you traverse,
every yoke you carry,
every painful stretch,
every injury you sustain,
your muscle of determination hypertrophies,
your stamina for risk taking increases,
your creativity in finding solutions improves,
your gifts of wisdom and grit grow
your strength of character tested in fire —
you just get better to become your best.
https://jeremyszuder. wordpress. com
When the night goes heavy and quiet,
the weight pushes out
all the airy fluorescent details
that should become fodder
for later bodies of work and worth,
but they are left to drop
on the floor like islands from
a sandwich held carelessly
in between two sheets of
Just look at me here,
trying to unclench my fingers
from this fist of work, this blown out
attempt of a day where I took swings
and I tried to hold my chin up high
above wires and antennae,
and the satellite dishes even,
them all transmitting the cipher
of God knows what, over and over,
like savage morse code.
I walked out my front door,
leaving my loving family nestled
like rosewood chips on fire
inside this hearth called home.
I went out into the wake,
into the emergency resurgence-
of people, of actions, of attempts made
to find an island just for us.
It would be a place so quiet and still,
that the deafness of calm could fill
each island full of their own
ideas and dreams again,
visions of self realization
that we are all brilliant in ways
uncharted by surrounding waters,
in ways not measured by weight,
and not by floodings of expectations
The islands poke their sandy heads
out from darkened green ocean,
enough to point themselves up
and into the never-ending big blues.
The island that sits farthest away
from all other clumps of islands,
you will not be able to see it
right off the bat, but that is my island.
It is the one we will call home,
layered in rosewood chips,
in my own wires and my very own
I begin paddling to it, slowly.
WE ARE THE WOMEN
https://www. instagram. com/lauraferrieswriter/
We are the women once strapped to stools
and shoved in the river
gagged and bound and burned at the stake,
but let’s be real, make no mistake-
it was never about witchcraft and heresy
but blatant cowardly misogyny
plainly, purely and prevalently
and the threads still run through strong today.
Such a flawed ideology!
How can it make you feel strong to attack
what you erroneously consider weak?
It’s a pathetic prejudice that thrives upon a paradox.
What woman do you know-
lurks in bushes in the park after dark
plotting pointless predations,
feeding off a need
to sink their teeth
into a grab for vicarious power?
We are the women who despite it all,
the threats and intrusions and daily catcalls
persecution, patriarchy, and murder,
from Pendle Hill, Salem to Salford,
ancestral past into present,
we summon up our strength
and walk on defiant, heads up, tall.
With each brutal theft,
with each senseless strike,
you’ll hear the thunder of our rally cry,
ardent and alive,
urgent and angry;
battling for the simple right to safety.
Enacting violence upon women
does not bolster masculinity.
Do not get it confused.
Do not tamper with magic.
Accept and ride this changing tide,
the moon’s power and pull is on our side.
You may still sink us to test us.
We are the women who continue to rise.
Kassie J Runyan
New York, USA
She haunts me.
When I wake up,
she hides under the bed
for only a moment.
Teasing that she went away.
I blink and she’s back
tapping on my shoulder
with her manicured nail,
painted in blood red
and sharpened to a tip.
Interrupting my thoughts;
that she Is always there.
I plan a future
but she frays the corners
of my mind,
teasing me about flights
and the dangers of them all.
She reminds me of the future
that might never come
She stands with me
when I go to my doctor
and they scan my body
looking for danger.
Shrugging her thin shoulders
when I get the all clear
and she mumbles under her breath,
“maybe next year.”
She forwards me articles
about the souls
that lost their battle
with their own mental demons.
Ones that look and feel like mine.
But they made the decision
or were pushed to
and she whispers,
“that could have been you.”
She sits in the pew
of the funeral home
as I pay my respects
to the family of a woman
I barely knew,
but who left the world
after a life well lived.
And the crimson nail
as her lips pucker
and she mouths,
“that could have been you.”
She is there,
now and always.
Stepping fully out of
as I turn out the light
and lay my head on my pillow
trying to ignore her glossy glare
as I slip to sleep.
I can’t escape her.
She follows me to my dreams…
like I’m her prey
and she’s starving for a capture.
She chants and pants,
“that could have been you”
as she haunts me.
Counting down the seconds,
until she can caress me
and fold me
into her bosom.
Making me a trophy
residing on her shelf.
I toss and turn in my sleep
and whisper to her in the shadow.
Her name escapes my lips,
and is shared with the world
Girl On The Edge Poetry
https://www. Facebook. com/girlontheedge90
We’re on a fleeting journey
On a planet green and blue,
Spending time worrying
About what we’re meant to do.
We place such pressure
On ourselves and it’s too much,
And of lives’ simplicity
We’ve become so out of touch.
Rarely focusing on one thing,
We’ve so much on the go,
No questions left unanswered
There’s nothing we can’t know.
Everything is instantaneous,
Off grid is not a thing,
As we clutch our phones so tight,
And respond to every ring.
We’ve rewired our brains
To live in a such a fast-paced way
We think we are experiencing more
As we bolt around each day.
But quality over quantity
Is what I think we need,
And there comes a time in life
To readjust our speed.
So take a breath, look up,
There’s so much more to see,
Sometimes be unavailable,
It’s how we’re meant to be!